Summertime and the living is easy. Here are some ways to make it cheaper too, by saving on energy costs.
Turn it Up
In summer, turn up your thermostat. Set it to 78 degrees when you are home and 85 degrees when you are out. The air conditioner will kick in a bit later and that will save on energy costs related to cooling. The rule of thumb is that you can save about 2-3% on your cooling bill for every degree warmer you set your thermostat to. And if you have a home energy monitoring system, or even just a programmable thermostat, you can adjust the temperature to cool just before you arrive home. Just in time cooling!
Become a Fan
A ceiling fan doesn’t use any more energy than a light bulb, and a breeze makes you feel three to four degrees cooler. If you want to go big, you can install a “whole house” fan. Mounted in your attic, a whole house fan draws cool air in through windows and forces hot air out through your roof vents. Turn it on after the sun has set and in the early morning when the outside temperature drops below 80 degrees. Because fans use so little energy, this is a much better way to cool than using the air conditioner.
Keep your Ducts in order
If you have to run an air conditioner, make sure you change the filter on a regular basis and check the ducts for leaks. Leaking ducts account for 20 to 40% of cooling costs in an average home, so inspect your ducts at the beginning of summer and repair any leaks.
Let it all Hang Out
Consider reducing activities that increase the temperature inside your house. There’s no real need to use the dry cycle on your dishwasher. Just open the door a crack and let your dishes air dry. Similarly, certain clothes can really benefit from air-drying rather than tumbling around in a punishing dryer. Set up an interior drying rack or an outdoor line for clothing and bedding. An added bonus? clothes last longer without drying.
Made in the Shade
A cheap way to beautify your property and reduce summer’s heat is to plant trees, vines and shrubs strategically so that they protect your house during the hottest hours of the day (between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.). In North America, the warmest sun comes from the south and the west, so plant more on those sides of your house, or on your apartment balcony. If you live in an arid location, and can’t maintain a forest, install awnings, shades, shutters or solar window films. These cost more, but are an effective way to reduce your reliance on air conditioning. In addition to the energy management benefits, sun blocking techniques can protect floors, furniture and art from damaging UV radiation.
Micro is better
Most people don’t realize it but, when it comes to cooking, nothing is more energy efficient than a microwave which uses 66% less energy than your stove. The other great thing about microwave cooking is that it contributes less overall heat to your living space. During summer, that’s a bonus.
Not into the microwave? Think outdoor cooking–which also goes a long way in reducing the heat you release into your kitchen.
There are tons of small ways you can reduce summer energy consumption. Run through a sprinkler. Go barefoot. But these six are the big ones to pay attention to in order to keep your cool during the hot summer months.